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Chili cookoff — keep it local

Chili fans get ready! The annual Lee Sterling Chili Cookoff closes the county fair on Sunday, Aug. 8.

Contestants can bring their entries to the fairgrounds through the main gate and to the activity tent starting at noon. Volunteers will register each entry and give it a code so blind judging can begin promptly at 1 p.m. Contestants cannot be in the tent during judging. The public will be invited to sample and judge the coveted People’s Choice Award beginning at 2 p.m. Prizes and awards will be given after 3 p.m.

Judges will award winners in four categories for both professional and amateur classes: red, green, novelty and salsa. The traditional red and green chili categories must contain no beans or pasta. Any vegetarian chili or chili with beans or pasta will register in the novelty category. The prestigious People’s Choice Award will be decided by the tasters.

Our traditional chili event at the fair involves great cooks with crock pots and time-honored recipes. The fair board surveyed the contestants about our local cook-off going big time. If we were to pay a yearly fee to join an international chili promotion organization, all cooking would need to take place on site and the outside organization would want Saturday night for “their” event. We’d have to drop our novelty vegetarian and beans category. Many serious chili cooks would travel to our competition judged by visiting judges. The overwhelming majority of participants answered, “No! Keep our chili cookoff local and low-key.”

We’re looking forward to more entries, but the same hometown flavor. Put it on your calendar now to be at the fair this year, folks, for a celebration of all that’s good about Archuleta County life.

Entry forms can be found online at www.archuletacountyfair.com or at the CSU Extension Office. To request a form via snail-mail, fax, or e-mail, contact the Extension Office at 264-2388.